Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Denim Petals

I'm not one for embellishment. I go for plain and classic - machine embroidery, while I admire it on others and am absolutely staggered by the results, is not really for me. So this little skirt takes me into new territory.

It's a simple straight denim skirt, made ages ago - can't even remember the pattern but it was plain - very plain. It has been usurped by the recent 4D skirt.

The only unique thing about this skirt was the closure. I didn't have a 7" zip but I did have some 4" zips salvaged from RTW low rise jeans bought when I thought I'd look good in them! I figured 2 X 4" = 8" so instead of putting in the darts at the front of the skirt, I put in the zips instead and it works!

With the little scraps of leftover denim leftover from 4D and a a pair of teenage son's too short jeans I made some petals and leaves and sewed on some flowers. It was a little awkward at times as this skirt is lined but we got there in the end.

I even got out some coloured thread and sewed some stems and highlights.

I cut out little circles of a small piece of quilting cotton that has been waiting to be used for something to brighten the denim on denim.

So a refashion of a home made skirt.

Off to Dublin for a few days - annual choir tour. I'm robes mistress so I'm needed to sew on buttons and sort out hems. Goodbye Valentino said she brings sewing projects with her on holiday - mine make their own way there!  I've got my list of fabric shop addresses and in between rehearsals and evensong you'll find me rummaging amongst the silks and tweeds. I've got my pattern ideas for autumn and the required yardages for each - it'll be such a pleasure to 'touch' the fabric before I buy rather than virtual internet shopping - ohh real life! Can't beat it.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


There comes a time when no more summer clothes are required (or needed due to lousy weather) and the wardrobe doors won't close, so to keep busy before starting autumn clothes I set my sights on replenishing my greying white T-shirts. I had this Vogue Katherine Tilton V8817 pattern and made the tunic many, many times. I ordered up some white T-shirt making fabric and went to work.

 From left: 1 cotton pointe knit, 2. cotton with a good helping of lycra, 3. the white leftovers on the body with brown crinkle mesh for sleeves and contrasts.

Note how the different fabrics give a slightly different fit and how it wrinkles over my swayback.

If I was a perfectionist I could have done a sway back alteration when cutting, but it's only a T-shirt!

The details: while they look the same there are subtle differences.
1. Added cuffs and no topstitching. 2. Topstitched with two threads, one white and one pale grey - it gives a sort of silver finish. 3. Fancy stitches and scraps of mesh used for neckband and sleeves.

 A really good pattern for a good basic top that has multiple variations limited only by your imagination and creativity. Easy to sew, though there are a lot of pieces to cut out first. It is my ideal T-shirt - 3/4 length sleeves; fitted but not tight; long enough to tuck in and short enough to leave out; scooped neckline that is low but not slutty; and interesting pattern pieces for a top that is more than two rectangles with sleeves.

 I had some brown knit wool fabric and made a draped cardi trimmed with brown mesh to match T number 3.

Wee bit of advice -

I went to be bra measured the other day as I've been wearing a 36A or B for years now and noticed in one set of photos this - wrinkles and lines across my back where the strap is.

Needless to say I was reckoning on having to move up a size to eliminate the creases - mentally prepared to buy a 38A I was shocked to be told I was actually 34D!


The result is quite a difference.
On the left - Wearing the new size bra - same top - no wrinkles!

Who'd have thought, a smaller size but the right size makes all the difference.

So treat yourself - get measured properly and buy new lingerie!

Which now leads onto the next issue - a drawer full of wrong sized bras. P'thrifty has been making bras (along with shirts, Chanel jackets and doing a million other things) and I was wondering could I. With the new machine that has a trillion stitches and pressure foot tension and adjustable thingys, I could maybe try at least one.

So the bra making kit has been ordered along with patterns from a super German site that Sigrid, via P'thrifty has listed.

Making bras! Whatever next? Matching knickers I suppose..........

Friday, 27 July 2012


Look what the summer Santa brought.....
 Well actually, this is what marking all those exam papers was for. It 's not the most brilliant machine in the world but for the money I reckoned it was really good value and when compared to what I was sewing with it's a vast improvement.

I can do fancy stitches and 7 different buttonholes with just a touch of a button. There's all sorts of tricks this machine can do that it'll take me a while to learn and remember. but that's part of the fun. The summer has been crap and my thoughts on sewing have been veering towards the autumn wardrobe recently.

I picked up Vogue UK magazine the other day and was very pleased to see the trouser suit or pant suit is making a comeback for this season.  When I was three years old an aunt asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I answered "Wear trouser suits." It's one of my earliest memories. 
Prada - Vogue UK

Article on the pant suit - Vogue UK
 Checks, tweeds, satin and fancy eye popping geometrics (Prada) - all are game for the suit.
Giorgio Armani

Jean-Paul Gaultier

Mui Mui

So why do Vogue patterns produce ONE pants suit in the new pattern season? Note the jacket length... while I'm not an avid follower of fashion I try to remain at least knowledgeable about what's on trend (so I know how far off the mark I actually am) - longer jackets are back - thank goodness! but not at Vogue patterns

Like almost all of you, I found these new patterns to be disappointing and quite uninspiring. I managed to pick only one that I know would suit me and that I would buy.
Those poor girls must have severe back problems as they can't stand up straight.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Time and Height Dimensions

My experiments with time don't seem to be working...at least not in my favour.....

On the left, teenage son's jeans - on the right, mine.

When did that happen?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

4D Skirt

The D in this title is for denim, not the fourth dimension. I'm not manipulating the time-space continuum, but I'm trying. I'll keep you posted on my success with that! I had loads of half metre leftovers of denim fabric - it was taking up too much space in the stash box and not one piece was large enough for any one project - so I put them all together! I made a skirt using 4 different denims - rather like a patchwork but not as intricate. Vogue 1247 - Rachel Comey top and skirt - I've always loved this skirt and saw it made up beautifully by other sewers but there was NO WAY I was making it this length - that's just a big belt! I think everyone who has made this skirt has added extra length. The pattern lends itself easily to using different fabrics as the bottom half of the skirt is a separate piece. This was really an exercise in sewing - an experiment - practising some sewing skills and if it didn't turn out right that was OK.

I am happy to announce that my sewing skills have returned somewhat:
Zip? what zip?
 The front, left back yoke and one back skirt panel were cut from the pinstripe denim. I added 8" to the length and then ran out of fabric. The other back panel is cut from another denim and the remaining back skirt is from yet another. The waistband and hem extension are from the fourth denim. I added a back pocket to keep the patchworky feel of the skirt.

Seams line up

Here you can see all four denims and I had to cut the right back panel on the cross grain due to restrictions of available fabric.

The front of the skirt has concealed pockets in the horizontal seam but it looks like I'm wearing an apron from the front when I put my hands in - but this is one good fitting, comfortable workhorse of a skirt that was made right out of the pattern envelope with no adjustments (apart from the length).

I frayed the hem but was not too comfortable with the length so I added another 4" (10cm) strip of denim around the bottom and frayed this a little too. Better length for me and balances out the other denims.

 To stop the skirt hem fraying all the way to the waist I stitched a line 2cm from the edge of both hems. I'm hoping that is will fray a little more in the wash to give a "I've had this skirt for ages" look.
I've made the silk top from this pattern too ages ago and never got round to posting about it. As usual I mucked about with the pattern and removed the shoulder pleats and lengthened the sleeves. It is made with some Ana Sui silk and I adore it but it has never been warm enough here to wear solo.

The 4D skirt is worn today with V8817. I'm in the process of making three white T-shirts from this pattern. Once cut out they only take a couple of hours to sew up and have everything I desire in a T-shirt - scoop neckline, 3/4 length sleeves and fitted but not tight body.

It's sad to say but I suit A-line skirts. Boring!!!

Time for a quick cup of coffee before forging ahead with something else........

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Happy Mac

Thank you for all your help in choosing a summer rain coat pattern. In the end I opted for the German Pattern Company's linen one with kimono sleeves and belt.  The fabric I bought is a linen and cotton mix so you get the look and feel of linen without the millions of wrinkles. It is a creamy buttermilk colour that will go with anything. You may remember I wanted a colourful, happy lining and found this lily flower in a pink colour-way locally. I loved this fabric so much I bought enough to do the lining and make a dress!!!!  The problem with the linen though was it has a loose weave and the flowers showed through, so I had to underline the jacket with a cream cotton. This jacket therefore has three layers and became a little more substantial than originally intended. Oh the joy and unexpected outcomes of home sewing! Anyhow, three layers should be enough to protect me from summer showers. I'll maybe spray some Scotchguard on a sample to see how it turns out. Have you ever 'waterproofed' fabric? What happened?

Cotton underlining, patterned lining and shell linen mix fabric.
The pattern is for an unlined jacket so I just cut the same pieces minus the front facing for the underling and the lining and sewed these as one. It's actually the lining that over lined, the shell fabric is separate if you see what I mean? I made two jackets - one in the linen and one for the lining and then bagged the whole lot together.

 The underlining worked a treat and there's no 'show through'.

I topstitched the whole way around the edge of the jacket by using two threads in the one needle. I added a white thread to the colour coordinated cream one to make the topstitching stand out a little more. Instead of using a thicker thread which tends to tangle in my machine and saves re-threading every time you want to do topstitching.
The belt system is great. I had reservations about a belted coat but this is just marvellous. There are two slits in the side seams and the loose belt threads through these on the inside. The effect therefore, is a neat belted front (with a waist) and a loose, straight back - no sway back visible. Of course, the belt can be removed or even worn around the back and loose at the front - what ever takes your fancy.

 The jacket is an easy make, especially as there are no sleeves to ease and insert. As it is meant to be casual and loose, fitting is not an issue either. I opted for patch pockets but the pattern comes with side seam pockets too if you want. The pattern is also marked for different lengths so you could easily make a short bolero-style as shown on the pattern photo. As usual, the instructions are in German but this time I just followed instinct and didn't try to translate or decipher.

Now you see the reason for fighting with the dress - matching lining!  

And my solution to all the dress sewing headaches - a little pink draped cardi made from leftovers of the twisted front jumper and the pattern from Three Hours Past

Under collar and turned back sleeves reveal the matching fabrics.

coutureallure - 1950s coat and fitted dress
I bagged the lining of the jacket so it has quite a neat finish - almost reversible - and if I really feel like it I can go for all out chaos. It's a bit much and too matchy-matchy but reminiscent of 1950/60s coat and dress suits.

The dress turned out OK in the end - by no means perfect but wearable. The jacket though I'm really pleased with - it almost ticked every box in my very specific Mac wishlist.......

 .........and would you believe it - it's NOT RAINING! Ruth